chebe: (Default)
In times gone by, when you caught a cold or got a cough, one of the things you could do to try and cure it was to tie a red flannel around your neck, under your clothes. Did the extra layer of warmth actually help, or was it just superstition? I'm not in a position to answer that, but it sparks some interesting questions.

For all its vibrant colours, traditional torque design, and dynamic nod-to-Newgrange kerbstone spirals, this piece strikes me as something futuristic, or interstellar. How Niki massaged the felt into these shapes I've no idea but, except for the torque clasp, this is one solid piece.

Mannequin wearing black tshirt, and a red felted torque piece

Red flannel neckpiece at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



Glorious details )

But for all the set-backs and frustrations, this piece turned out to be many peoples favourite. Everyone who tried it laughed, some almost split their sides. Niki has some good ideas on improvements for the next version, and at the very least there will be fewer microcontrollers involved! So keep an eye-out for the next revision.
chebe: (StepIntoTheLight)
Sorry it's been so quiet around here, things have been hectic in the analogue world. And to top it all off I'm running a series of four workshops on the LilyPad in TOG, starting Thursday. More hours in each day would come in handy right about now.

But, I haven't been idle. Remember way back when I made a simple accelerometer glove? Well, I'm working on a more elaborate matching pair now. PartFusion, a guy from the hackerspace, makes some really intense RGB daisy-chainable, sewable, LEDs. Armed with these, Adafruit's NeoPixel library, a couple of accelerometers, LilyPad Simple boards, and LiPo batteries, I had the fixings of something strong enough to help land planes.

I used some material from a free tshirt I acquired at some point, made a couple of armwarmers/gauntlets, with inside lining/pouch for the LilyPad Simple board itself. Some metal snaps and lots of conductive thread sewing later I've one strip done. It's still a work in progress, but I brought them along to one of the CoderDojo sessions, and people seemed to like them. I have a deadline for them, a concert I have tickets for, so hopefully they'll get finished soon.

Few photos )
chebe: (ThoughtFractal)
Last we looked in on this project I'd just added in the adapter for the keypad and a battery holder. Since then a couple of things happened.

One; in the two-and-a-half years since starting this project, the silver on the conductive thread has started to corrode. This manifested first as the programmed time delays no longer seeming to work right, and then with an un-even light disruption across the LED grid (this happens anyway, but wasn't noticeable before this). So I rather carefully went over every single trace of conductive thread with a thin paintbrush and a bottle of fray-stop glue. Hopefully it will slow down further corrosion.

Two; I got my hands on a IR-detector unit, and wanted to include it in the top (as talked about in the Dublin Maker Faire post). To make this possible the keypad-adapter would have to double up as an ir-adapter. But this required a change of circuit layout.

The keypad has five wires; 3 output, 1 led, 1 ground. The ir-detector has four wires; 1 output, 1 led, 1 ground, 1 power. The adapter has five slots. But two of them are pins 0 and 1 (Rx & Tx) and I had trouble getting them to work consistently. So to fit everything in I decided to move the power and ground lines out to their own adapter. But where was I to find a two-pin breakout board? They come in large, small (used for the existing adapter), and that's it. *brainwave* I remembered a set of empty LED boards I hadn't gotten around to using.



And sure enough, two separate connections, just add headers! I pulled out the existing stitching and stitched the new layout in. The power lines are actually run along the back in channels of bias-binding for insulation because the whole thing is so crowded at this point.



Turned it on, fixed up the code (new pin numbers), adjusted the timing on the patterns, and tried my hand at interrupt coding. However, before I could finish it up, my top needed to go off with [twitter.com profile] Jeffrey_Roe and [twitter.com profile] PartFusion to NY MakerFaire to represent tog, so development of new features was promptly abandoned, to be continued once it returns. (Although, I hear it was a bit wet, so I expect my top probably stayed in somewhere nice and dry.) *edit* Spot the LED top. But now I have a definite list of things that need doing, and then it will actually be finished!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4.a

Lilypad Holders

2012-Aug-08, Wednesday 12:51 pm
chebe: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
Here's something I meant to talk about months ago. Lilypad microcontrollers are meant to be sewn into projects. Which can be time consuming, and seriously limits their resusability. (Also, I'd be much more willing to wash my e-garment if I could detach the microcontroller first.) So people have been coming up with shields/adapters to make their Lilypad projects more modular.

One that's pretty cool, and uses a 3-D printer, is the Lilypad Holder from mizliz via thingiverse. Namit very kindly printed me up a couple.



They fit the original microcontroller, the Simple Board (although it doesn't use all the holes), and even the XBee shield. The board is kept in place with a magnet glued into the little hole beneath where the board goes.

But, as I was filing out the holes I realised something; the metal snaps point up. Which means either the FTDI header is face down (making it hard to reach and program) or the other components are loose and not connected to the base material. That could be changed by altering the 3-D model to invert the outside ring though, probably.

But then I also realised the wires (wires!?) from the snaps are soldered directly onto the Lilypad pads themselves. Meaning any board you use with this holder is permanently committed. It's still a really cool idea, just doesn't match the way I work.

There are also a couple of nifty soft-circuit ones I came across that seem like great ideas, but a fair amount of work to create; like the Frogr shield, or a soft-holder also from mizliz, but fixing the direction the snaps point.

And, well, it seems that the powers that be were paying attention, because now there exists a Lilypad Microcontroller (Simple Board version) with built-in snaps! The SimpleSnap. It also has a battery attached, which means it must be removed from a project before washing, but that's a small trade-off. And to complement it there is a SimpleSnap Protoboard as well. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on these!
chebe: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
The Electro-Sewing Workshop was last Friday, and I feel it went very well. Even with starting on Irish-Standard-Time and forcing the class to sit through a slide-deck, there were seven very pretty LED-flowers two-and-a-half hours later. Definitely a success!

Here's a couple of pics from the night.



Aren't they pretty! I am planning to write up a how-to for these, but truth be known, they follow essentially the same method as for the LED-horns from last year. Nonetheless, people seemed rather enthused about the whole experience :)

I've also gotten my hands on the new LilyPad ProtoSnap Development Board. It's very nifty; all the main components of the LilyPad range, pre-connected on one board! So you can practice your programming, or simply getting the components to work together the way you want, without having to worry about any of that sewing malarkey. Then, if you want, you can snap the pieces apart and sew them into an actual project!

I plugged it in just yesterday and was highly amused to find a pre-loaded program that tests most of the components (make sure to play with the switches!). But, looking closely, I've noticed that only the RGB-LED, the five white LEDs, and the momentary push-button are connected to actual sew-holes on the Simple Microcontroller Board. The rest of them are connected through paths that would be available on the full Microcontroller Board, but that aren't exposed on the Simple board. Makes sense, seeing as how the LEDs/button take up all the existing holes! (Still, I imagine the numbers printed on next to the other components could get confusing for someone just starting out. Speaking of, there's a nice tutorial available to get you up and running.)

And all this has inspired me to maybe run a LilyPad course in tog in January. We'll see.


In other news, I don't have any photos from Octocon, but we made the same flowers as shown above, and you can check out the photos from Darklight (where I spent some time teaching people to solder) in the Gallery. (Can you spot me, or rather my Dresden Dolls hoodie?) That's almost it for my busy October. *phew*
chebe: (StarryNight)
Take one Lilypad LED-matrix top (you thought I'd forgotten, hadn't you?), add one SparkFun Wearable Keypad, and voila! You get one fun interactive top!

The devil's in the details )

It's all controlled by the push-button. Initially all LEDs are off.
- Push once; all LEDs are on.
- Push twice; you get the random LED twinkle pattern.
- Push thrice; you get into keypad controllable mode (denoted by the keypad lighting up). You press the centre SparkFun-logo button to clear the board and pick a random starting LED. Then you can use the four directions to draw in lights.
- If you press the push-button a fourth time, you stay in the keypad mode, but the timing changes and the pattern becomes a chase-sequence.
- Pressing the push-button again brings you back to the beginning, with all LEDs off. (But so long as you don't turn off the battery, your pattern is still kept in memory.) Here, have a look.



If you happen to be at Darklight next weekend, come find the tog guys, and you can have a go yourself :)
chebe: (South Park)
Someone asked me for this and I realised I'd never posted it. (I had dealt with reading the temp here but not the rest of it.) It's not fully done. The timing and lights and such could still do with some tweaking, but I guess that comes down to personalisation. If you'd like to try this project the physical construction is here, and what follows is my code. If you do give it a go I'd love to see how it turns out!

code monkey like you )
chebe: (HandAgainstGlass)
Science Week has just passed. I wanted to do something Arduino related, and remembered the Breathe Project. I'm not a biology person at all, but loved the idea of investigating breathing. Something we do all the time, most of the time completely unaware, until one day it's very cold, or we're told about breathing exercises as a way to relax. Then we start to get an inkling of how important an act it is. So, shamelessly, I decided to make one of my own.

Where I waffle on about construction of a breath sensitive scarf )
chebe: (Default)
The LilyPad range includes a temperature sensor, which is a MCP9700 thermistor type sensor, used for measuring ambient temperatures. It has positive and negative power terminals, and a 's' terminal that you connect to an analogue pin on the LilyPad microcontroller. You set up the code in the same way as for other sensors, and read the value:

Code )

This does give a seemingly accurate reading (oddly enough I seem to lack any other kind of ambient thermometer), except that it fluctuates quite a bit. But in and around what seems like a decent value. I may have to do some form of averaging to smooth it out.

I was using the new Simple Board, so thought I'd see if there was any difference using the Main Board. There's not, exact same results. So my only other thought is that maybe the USB-power is fluctuating and skewing the results. Of course, I don't have a ready way of reading the values while it's solely on battery power, so I can't check. Interesting though. I wonder if anyone has seen this before?
chebe: (Default)
Okay, I'm a little too excited, but I've just discovered new Arduino Lilypad components on Spark Fun! If you reckon my trick with the elastic is too tricky you can now buy a Lilypad coin-cell holder. There's also a battery connect and Simple Power, a JST connector, and JST connector with slide switch and space to add resistor, respectively.

Then in the world of LEDs, we now have Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue Lilypad sewable surface-mount LEDs (a big improvement on just White), but also, you can buy packs of the boards so you can add any 5mm LED you want yourself!



What's really exciting in a new Lilypad itself; the Simple Board. It's smaller the same size, has less holes, and you can plug the LiPo batteries right into it.

And, to really put the icing on the cake, they have a Lilypad Basics Workshop kit! If you want to try something similar but non-Lilypad there's even a Schemer kit like this Sapphire Blue Bracelet kit which looks nifty! So now, no excuses, give this stuff a go! You'll have fun, I promise!
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